Tag Archives: Sermons

The Coming of the King

Sermon 2: The Coming of the King

Text: Mark 1:2-11 – As it is written in the prophets, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!’”  John did immerse in the wilderness, and preach the immersion of repentance for the remission of sins.  And there went out to him all the land of Judea, and those of Jerusalem, and were all immersed by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.  And John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a belt of leather around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, “There comes one mightier than I, after me, the laces of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I indeed have immersed you in water: but He shall immerse you in the Holy Spirit.

And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was immersed by John in the Jordan.  And immediately, coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending on Him.  And there came a voice from heaven, saying, “Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.”

Introduction

Mark wrote to a Roman audience; an audience that grew up hearing the stories about various gods, hearing the legends about the children of the gods, and even tales about prophesies regarding these various supposed deities coming to earth.  But if they started reading the gospel that Mark wrote, they’d instantly be captivated by his statement that there is only one God (Mark 1:1 literally says that Jesus Christ is “Son of the God”).  And Mark follows that by quoting two prophecies that pointed to a theophany (appearance of deity on earth).

The Text, part 1 – The Prophecy (Mark 1:2-3)

(2a) As it is written in the prophets

With this statement, Mark subtly asserts the superiority of this prophecy to those supposed prophecies of Greek and Roman legends.  When “prophecies” appear in Greek and Roman myths, they’re almost always introduced in the same story where they are “fulfilled.”  That is to say, there are no examples of a “prophecy” being given in the name of Zeus or Hermes or whoever that was written down and then fulfilled at a later period of time.  All the “prophecies” appear for the first time in the stories that they supposedly point to.

Meanwhile, Mark starts off with “As it is written in the prophets…”  This bold statement invites his readers to do some research and look at the fact that these prophecies have been on record, foretelling a theophany, for hundreds of years!  This is a massive distinction made between the gods of Rome and the God of heaven whose Son is the subject of this short book.

Some translations follow a less-trustworthy Greek text and have the phrase “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,” but the first quotation isn’t from Isaiah—it’s from Malachi.

(2b) Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, which shall prepare the way before You

If one of the Roman readers of this book were to take Mark’s challenge and look for this prophecy, he’d find it in the book of Malachi, written about 450-500 years before Mark wrote his book.  While this prophecy foretells the work of John the Immerser (Jesus quotes it as such in Matthew 11:10 and Luke 7:27), its primary focus is on the coming (theophany) of the Lord.  Malachi 3:1 says “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before ME.”  If you continue reading that verse, you’ll see that it was spoken by the Lord (Jehovah).

Now, Mark knew that the majority of his original readers wouldn’t take the time to look up the original prophecies, and so—as the narrator—he only brings up three in his entire book, two of which are right here.  There are other Old Testament prophecies mentioned, but they are mentioned by Jesus, and Mark is simply quoting Him.

In the ancient times, when a king was going to visit a city, he would first send a messenger, a herald, first to announce his coming so that the people could be prepared.  Oftentimes this would be done months—sometimes over a year—in advance of his arrival.  The cities that received an arrival of the king were considered to be specially favored, because the king didn’t make trips to all the cities.  It was an incredible honor to have the king visit your city.

When it was announced that the king was coming, the people would work hard to beautify their city.  They would many times build new buildings, would repair older ones, painting them, repair the city streets, and anything else they could think of to make a good impression for the royalty that was blessing them with his presence.  It was the job of the messenger, the herald, to encourage the people to be ready.  He would point out the things that needed to be fixed in the city, and would give suggestions on how to best be prepared to welcome the king.

Since this was true of people preparing to meet a physical king, how much more should they be preparing when it is the God of heaven whose coming is being announced?  Since the great kings of the earth would announce their arrival months in advance, how much greater is the King whose coming was announced hundreds of years in advance?

(3a) The voice of one crying in the wilderness

This is an interesting contrast with the historical background.  A messenger would go into cities to announce a future visit of the king, but this messenger of prophecy would make his announcement in the “wilderness.”  This was another clue to the original readers that there was something different about this theophany, about this arrival of a monarch.

Verse 3 is a quotation from Isaiah 40:3.

(3b) Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight

In addition to beautifying the buildings and the city, prior to the arrival of the king, the inhabitants of the city would do road work.  They would smooth out bumpy roads, straighten out twisting roads, and not just inside the city.  They would work on the path to their city gates for several miles outside their town, just so the king’s journey to their city would be a pleasant one.

Of course, Mark is about to drop a figurative bomb on his readers when he tells them that the preparation for this king has nothing to do with fixing roads and beautifying buildings.

The Text, part 2 – The Messenger (Mark 1:4-6)

Mark doesn’t dwell much on John the immerser—John is only a part of about 30 verses (less than 5% of the book of Mark).  The messenger was an envoy of the king, but everyone knew that while he was an important person, he was nothing compared to the one whose coming he announced.

(4) John did immerse in the wilderness, and did preach the immersion of repentance for the remission of sins.

Mark began this section with the words “As it is written in the prophets…” or “Like it was written in the prophets…” and then gives the quotations.  But verse 4 is a continuation of that phrase.  “Like it was written in the prophets…John did immerse in the wilderness, and preach…”  Mark’s point in this verse is to show (1) the person—the messenger, John—who was foretold, (2) the place—the wilderness—that was foretold, and (3) the preparation—immersion of repentance for the remission of sins—that was foretold.

The preparation for the arrival of the great King—God in the flesh—didn’t involve fixing the streets or building new buildings.  It involved preparation of the people.  The Roman readers would have been perplexed by this.  “What kind of king seeks moral cleansing, spiritual betterment prior to His arrival instead of physical improvements?”

The work of the messenger, John, was to get the people to think about their spiritual condition, believing in the coming of the King, the Messiah, repenting, and being immersed for the remission of sins.  This is how the “way of the Lord” was being prepared.  This is how His “paths” were being made straight.  When the King arrived, He preached the same thing, and commanded that the same thing continue to be preached even after He left (Luke 24:47, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, etc.).

Because John’s work was one of spiritual preparation, his immersion was one with spiritual effects when coupled with repentance.  It had the same effect as the baptism commanded by the King (Jesus Christ), through Peter, on the Day of Pentecost three years later—the remission (removal, forgiveness) of sins.

(5) And there went out to him all the land of Judea, and those of Jerusalem, and were all immersed by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

The ancient heralds would go to the city gates or to public place inside the city to make their announcement, and all the people would come to hear it.  John made his announcement in the wilderness, but still all the people came to hear it.  He was (as seen in verse 7) announcing the coming of the King, and the people who believed him wanted to make themselves right in anticipation of His arrival.

(6) John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a belt of leather around his waist; and he ate locusts and wild honey.

Mark adds this information about the appearance and diet of John for a very important reason.  The heralds of kings in the ancient days would be clothed in fine clothing, expensive clothing, and would expect gifts of clothing from the people.  They also expected, as emissaries of the king, to be “wined and dined,” eating the best food that the city had to offer (without paying for it, of course).  Not all were like that, for certain, but it was common for the heralds of kings to take advantage of the people in the city, with the implication “I’d hate to have to tell the king you were uncooperative…”

In stark contrast to these well-dressed and well-fed men, John came dressed in camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist.  And he didn’t feast on the best the people had to offer—his diet consisted of things he could get for himself, provided by nature.

The thoughtful Roman reader couldn’t help but be struck by the imagery.  What kind of king sends his messenger dressed in poor man’s clothing and eating locusts?  But at the same time, they would have also had a level of admiration for the king whose messenger refused to use his position to line his own pockets and fill his own stomach.

The Text, part 3 – The Announcement (Mark 1:7-8)

The prophecies quoted by Mark for his readers started with the messenger, and Mark identified the messenger.  The prophecy then spoke of the preparation, and Mark described the preparation.  The prophecy spoke of the place where this work was to be done, and Mark showed the location.  The prophecy then gave the announcement—the Lord is coming!

(7) And he preached, saying “There comes one mightier than I after me, the laces of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”

This is John being the herald, the messenger, announcing the coming of the King.  The people listening to his message didn’t know exactly who this King was yet (they knew He was the Messiah, but they didn’t know it was Jesus yet), but Mark’s readers were given the answer at the very beginning: Jesus Christ, Son of the God.

As important as the herald was, and as much respect as he was to be given, he was nothing compared to the King which would follow.  This is the imagery that Mark, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is presenting to his readers.  John, the messenger of the King who is the Son of the one and only God, should have been—by worldly standards—the most important herald in the history of mankind (and Jesus even said there was no man greater than John, Matthew 11:11).  But even the greatest messenger in the history of the world wasn’t worthy to touch the feet to untie the shoes of the King he was announcing.

How powerful and mighty must this King be!

(8) “I indeed have immersed you in water, but He shall immerse you in the Holy Spirit.”

This is a continuation of the announcement of the coming King and a description of His greatness and power.  John had immersed people in water—that common item that covers the majority of the globe.  And it wasn’t even pristine water, it was the not-exactly-clean water of the Jordan River, which was inferior to the rivers in Syria to the north (2 Kings 5:12).  The point is that John immersed people in a common element, but that the King who would come had the power to immerse people in power from heaven.  What an incredible contrast!

While John’s listeners were familiar with the Holy Spirit, Mark’s original readers probably weren’t.  And so it comes as no surprise that just a few verses later, Mark shows the source of the Spirit: God Himself!

The Text, part 4 – The King Arrives (Mark 1:9-11)

(9) And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was immersed by John in the Jordan River.

The reaction of the readers must have been much like the reaction of Nathanael, who said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).  That is, if they’d even heard of Nazareth.  They had probably heard of Galilee, and that would probably have elicited a similar reaction.  Galilee was an insignificant area, so far as the Romans were concerned.

But they’ve already been told that Jesus is the Anointed One, son of the God (1:1), they’ve been shown the prophecy about the messenger announcing the arrival of this Lord (1:2-3), and they’ve read his might and power described (1:7-8).  So their expectations were probably something completely different from what happens in this verse.  It’s no surprise, since that’s what happened with the Jews as well.  They expected a Messiah much different than the one that God sent.

John described the coming King as someone who was so mighty that He had the powers of heaven at His command (will immerse you with the Holy Spirit), and so regal that John wasn’t even worthy to untie this King’s shoes.  The expectation, then, would be someone who thought of themselves as above everyone else, who couldn’t be bothered with the common person.  Yet here comes Jesus, going out into the wilderness, coming to the same person for baptism, going down into the same dirty, common waters of the Jordan River, allowing the one who wasn’t worthy to untie His shoes to immerse Him like he had done so many others.

This verse reveals Jesus as a King who is humble, not like the kings of this world.

(10) And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending on Him.

Take a moment to picture this scene in your mind.  Jesus has come to be immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John.  Jesus steps into the water and stands next to the Immerser.  John then takes hold of Jesus, and plunges Him beneath the water’s surface before lifting Him back up.  And at that moment, the heavens open up.  Do you see the clouds parting in the sky?  Do you see a bright ray of sunlight shining down towards our Lord?  Don’t just read over this verse and miss the incredible scene that took place, because this is part of the proof of what Mark stated in the first verse: Jesus Christ, Son of the God.

Jesus, the King, was described as the one who would have the power over the Holy Spirit (baptizing people in the Holy Spirit—verse 8).  Now, in this verse, it is shown that the Holy Spirit comes from heaven—from God—and resides with Jesus.  Some view this event to be the moment when Jesus is anointed as King.

(11) And there came a voice from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Here is the public proclamation of Jesus as Son of the God.  The heavens have opened, the Spirit has descended, and now the voice from heaven itself—the realm of the one true God—speaks, announcing that Jesus of Nazareth is His Son.

Mark concludes the opening section of his account of the good news of Jesus by showing that Jesus is the Son of God, just like he stated in the first verse.

Application

The Old Testament was Written for our Learning.

If you look through the book of Acts, you’ll see that the apostles used the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  While we do not live under the Old Testament (nor did the apostles after the Day of Pentecost), we can increase our faith and learn more about God by studying those writings.  Even though Mark doesn’t spend a lot of time bringing up the Old Testament prophecies, he does show that he is familiar with them, and that they can still be used to prove the truth of Jesus as the Christ.

The Messenger of God Cannot be Focused on Himself.

There was no one greater than John the Immerser, according to Jesus Christ, but John didn’t let that status, as the messenger of the King, go to his head.  He didn’t wear fancy clothes when he proclaimed his message—the Pharisees did, but John didn’t.  He was dressed in common clothing.  He didn’t try to abuse his role and make demands of people, catering to his whims and opinions.  Instead, the only demands he made of people were those that involved their spiritual condition (Luke records these in greater detail).  The ones who were trying to run others’ lives, he called a “generation of vipers” (Matthew 3:7).  Likewise, if we are to truly be God’s messengers, we need to make sure we focus on making people spiritually prepared for the Lord’s coming.  Making an issue, demanding that someone cater to your opinion, is putting the focus on you and not on God.

Jesus was Humble, We must be Humble.

There are baptized believers who are arrogant instead of humble.  Sometimes it is seen in how they talk about those in denominations, as though they are so much smarter than those denominationalists because of a proper understanding of baptism—as though the denominationalists are intentionally keeping themselves out of heaven.  Other times it is seen in how they treat other Christians, specifically those who are struggling spiritually, as though they never have any spiritual struggles.  Jesus came to save the lost and to give us an example of the attitude we are to have towards others—brethren and non-brethren alike.  Jesus lived a life of humility, of humble service, not using His status as King to make people bow down to His every whim, but showing them the right way to live.  We need to follow that same example.

Baptism Involves being able to “come up out of the water.”

The largest religious denomination in the world teaches that sprinkling water on someone is considered baptism.  Others teach that pouring water on someone’s head constitutes baptism.  But when Jesus was baptized, He “came up out of the water” (Mark 1:10).  That means He first had to be “in” the water.  You can’t “come out of the water” after having some sprinkled on you.  You can’t “come out of the water” after having some poured on you.  But you have no choice but to “come out of the water” after you’ve been immersed in it.  Baptism is immersion.

Invitation

The King of kings, the Son of the one true God of heaven, did come to the earth to visit mankind.  When He did, He lived a life of perfect service and obedience to the Father, giving us an example to follow.  He gave those who believed in Him and wanted to be saved a very simple command: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins.”

Why don’t you come follow the King now?

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of THE God

Another one of our many “in progress” projects is a sermon commentary on the book of Mark.  Each section is broken down into a sermon, complete with introduction, points from the text, application, and invitation.

Starting today, and following each Friday for the foreseeable future, we will be posting a sermon from this collection.  It is ready to preach, so if you think it is worthwhile, preach it! (that’s why it’s being put here).

Sermon 1: The Introduction

Text: Mark 1:1 – The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Introduction

The book of Mark is a biography of Jesus Christ that differs from each of the other Gospel accounts in the Bible (Matthew, Luke, and John) in some significant ways. (1) Its size—Mark is significantly shorter than any of the other accounts. (2) Its speed—Mark pictures Jesus constantly on the move doing the Father’s will, and uses the word euthus (translated “immediately” or “straightway”) over forty times in his short book.  To put this in perspective, this word appears more times in the book of Mark than it does in the rest of the New Testament combined! (3) Its focus on Jesus’ final week—almost 40% of this book is dedicated to Jesus’ passion week. (4) Its starting point—Matthew and Luke both deal with the birth and some of the early life of Jesus; John goes all the way back to creation to show Jesus [the Word] was there; but Mark starts his record with the baptism of Jesus by John.

Mark most likely wrote his account of the gospel to a Roman audience.  He had to interpret certain Aramaic [the spoken language of the Jews] words and phrases so that his readers would understand them (Mark 3:17, 5:41, 7:34, 15:22, 34).  He also used several Latin words instead of their Greek counterparts; and Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire.  “Bushel” (Mark 4:21), “executioner” (Mark 6:27), “tribute” (Mark 12:14), “farthing” (Mark 12:42), “scourged” (Mark 15:15), “Praetorium” (Mark 15:16), “band” (Mark 15:16), “centurion” (Mark 15:39).  The Greek equivalents of each of these words appear elsewhere in the Bible, but God inspired Mark to use the Latin in those places instead, because this was written to a Roman audience.  It is also said that Romans had a penchant for fast-moving reading, and didn’t want to be bogged down with explanations and commentary on a story—Mark definitely fits the bill on that as well.

The book of Mark is controversial among biblical scholars and commentators in two ways: (1) the absence of the last twelve verses of the book in two ancient manuscripts, and (2) the date of its composition.  We will deal with the validity of Mark 16:9-20 when we cover that passage of inspired Scripture.  The date is controversial because some want to make the claim that Mark wrote his first, and that Matthew and Luke simply copied from him and embellished it—in other words, they’re claiming that an apostle of Jesus Christ wasn’t able to tell the story of Jesus’ life without first reading it from someone else and plagiarizing it.  The date of the original composition is truly irrelevant to its truthfulness (except that it obviously must have been written during Mark’s lifetime), but here are some things to consider about it.

  • Mark records the prophecy of the destruction of the temple (Mark 13:1-2), but says nothing about it having been fulfilled, which places the writing of the book prior to AD 70.
  • Biblically speaking, there is no evidence that Mark had any influence with Gentiles until Paul’s first missionary journey—which he abandoned (Acts 12:25, 13:13). Given his retreat to Jerusalem, abandoning the mission to the Gentiles, it would be difficult to believe that Mark’s writings would have been accepted among that same group.
  • It isn’t until at least fifteen years after the conversion of Paul that Mark does any more missionary work (Galatians 2:1, Acts 15, especially verses 33-37). Until that point, he had been in Jerusalem among the Jewish Christians.  This is usually estimated to be around AD 49.
  • It isn’t until AD 60 or afterwards that Mark’s name appears in the Bible in any kind of authoritative way, (a) as a fellow-worker with Peter (1 Peter 5:13) and (b) as a “profitable” minister for Paul (2 Timothy 4:11).

Taking these biblical pieces of evidence into consideration, it would appear the book of Mark was written somewhere between AD 50-65, probably close to the latter half of that timespan.  The book of Matthew, by comparison, was most likely written between AD 40-50; the early Christian writers unanimously stating that his was the first gospel account written.  Mark was not written first.

Mark’s name has always been attached to this book, and no one among the early Christians had any doubt that he was the one who wrote it.  To put it another way, there are no copies of the book of Mark that have another name put in his place as the writer.

The Text (Mark 1:1)

The Beginning

The apostle John starts off his account of the good news of Jesus Christ with the words “In the beginning was the Word.”  Mark uses the same Greek word for “beginning,” but he isn’t speaking of the creation week that starts the whole biblical record.  Mark’s focus is on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, culminating in His victorious death on the cross.  It is when this gospel is believed and obeyed that people can be saved—this is the good news (Mark 16:15-16)!  Mark doesn’t start with “Jesus died,” but with the beginning of Jesus’ work on earth.

It’s also worth noting that Luke uses similar wording to describe his written account of the life of Jesus.  He says in his sequel (the book of Acts) that his gospel account recorded “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).  This implies that there was still more to come.  The book of Acts records more of the things that Jesus did and taught—through His servants.  The same idea is apparent in Mark’s use of the word “beginning” as well.  The death of Jesus on the cross was not the end—there was more to come.  That great event still has powerful effects to this day to save souls!

Of the Gospel

The word “gospel” comes from the Greek compound word, euangellion, which is where we get the English word “evangelize.”  It’s made up of two Greek words: eu, which means “good,” and angelia, which means “message” (see 1 John 3:11).

What makes the things contained in the book of Mark “good news”?  The answer to that question can be found by cheating a bit and skipping ahead to see how the book ends.  If you turn to Mark 16:15-16, you’ll see that the “gospel” [good news, same as in 1:1] is to be proclaimed to the whole world.  So, from that, we know that the same subject is under consideration at the end of the book as at the beginning.  But notice what this message has the power to do: he that believes [the gospel] and is baptized [obeying the gospel] shall be saved.  Salvation?  Being able to have all of our sins removed?  That certainly is good news!  Of course, the opposite is also true: he that does not believe [the gospel] shall be damned.

Mark introduces the book with “the beginning of the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ,” and ends with the gospel being proclaimed to bring about salvation.  So we have seen what the good news does, and why it’s good news.  It’s the information between the beginning and the end of this book that shows what the good news actually is.

The apostle Paul described the gospel as that “which I preached…, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I have preached [that is, the gospel] to you” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  He then states that the what he preached [the gospel] was “that Christ died for our sins…and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day,” and that His resurrection is proof that we will be resurrected as well (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 12-28, 51-58).  Is it any wonder, then, that Mark spends close to forty percent of his book describing the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?

Some people have a hard time with the idea of “obeying the gospel,” because they see the gospel as a series of events, and not as any kind of command.  But God’s inspired writers said that vengeance will come on those who “do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  Thankfully, we are not left in the dark as to what it means to obey the gospel—to somehow obey the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:2-5).

The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf; it is the good news about salvation that comes through Him; it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we obey when we are baptized into Christ.

Of Jesus

The phrase “of Jesus” is in the genitive case in Greek, which means that this is the good news that belongs to Jesus Christ.  It is His gospel; He lived it; He revealed it; and He confirmed it.

“Jesus” is the name that was given to the baby born to Mary after she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25).  It is common to hear people say that “Jesus was at the beginning of creation” and that “Jesus created everything.”  While those statements express truth, the wording could use some fixing up, because He did not have the name “Jesus” until He was born as a human.  The name “Jesus” expresses His humanity.  Prior to His incarnation [coming to earth as a human], He was known as “the Word” (John 1:1), as “Jehovah” (Isaiah 6, compared with John 12:36-41), and as “the Angel of Jehovah” (Exodus 3:1-6, see whose appearance caused the ground to be holy).  But He was not known as “Jesus” until Matthew 1:25.

The name “Jesus” is the same as “Joshua” in the Old Testament.  “Jesus” is from the Greek, “Joshua” is from the Hebrew.  In fact, there are several Bible translations online and in print that use “Yeshua” (the Hebrew form of the name) instead of “Jesus.”  The name itself means “Jehovah is salvation.”  No other name captures the essence of who Jesus is and what His life and death means to the entire world.  It is the perfect name for the Son of God!

Even after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, He is still called “Jesus,” showing that He retains His humanity, even after taking His place at the right hand of the Father.

Christ

The words “Jesus Christ” appear together so frequently in the Bible that a lot of people mistakenly think that “Christ” is part of Jesus’ name.  It is not.  The word “Christ” is a title, and it means “anointed one.”  In the Old Testament, anointing was done to “consecrate,” “sanctify,” and turn men into God’s “minister[s]”—that is, to make someone a priest (Exodus 28:41).  Prophets were also anointed to the position as spokesmen for God (1 Kings 19:16).  And we must not forget also that kings were anointed to make their selection official (1 Samuel 10:1, 16:13; 1 Kings 19:16).  Jesus of Nazareth was given the title “the anointed one” because He is all three: prophet, priest, and king (Acts 3:20-22; Hebrews 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:15).

The Hebrew word “Messiah” (Daniel 9:25-26) is translated “anointed” everywhere in the Old Testament except for the prophecy of Daniel.  In that passage, it is given as a title—the one that the Jews had been waiting for would be known as “the Messiah” or “the Anointed One.”  So when Peter announces by inspiration that Jesus is “the Christ” (Matthew 16:16), he proclaims that Jesus is the “Messiah” or “the Anointed One.”

It’s also interesting to look at Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost and notice that he’s discussing the “Christ” of prophecy, and showing how “Jesus” fits those prophecies.  We tend to think “Jesus” and “Christ” are interchangeable terms when they’re not.  Peter starts his sermon by proclaiming the murder and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by miracles.  He states that David prophesied this event, and then says “he…spoke of the resurrection of Christ [the Anointed One]” (Acts 2:31).  Then he points out, “This Jesus, God has raised up, we are all witnesses of it” (Acts 2:32).  The conclusion of his sermon is that the Messiah and Jesus are one and the same: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).  Most of the people there believed in Christ, believed in the Messiah, or the Anointed One, but they didn’t know that Jesus was Him!

Son

A thousand years or so before Jesus was born, a king in a relatively tiny country along the Mediterranean Sea wrote these words:

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against His Anointed [Hebrew Messiah], saying “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”  He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure, “Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”  I will declare the decree: “Jehovah has said to me, ‘Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.  Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen [Hebrew Gentiles] for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”  Therefore now be wise, O you kings: be instructed you judges of the earth.  Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him (Psalm 2:2-12).

The Old Testament prophesied that the Anointed One would be called “the Son” of Jehovah.  From the very beginning of Mark’s gospel account, he makes that point clear: Jesus Christ [the Anointed One] is the Son of God.

There are some religious groups who maintain that since Jesus is the Son of God, He cannot also be God.  What they seem to miss (some of them intentionally) is that this phrase is referring to the nature of Jesus the Christ.  Jesus frequently refers to Himself as “the Son of man,” but not a one of these groups would dare use their same argument and say that Jesus cannot be human because He was the Son of man (the Greek word means “human”).  The son of a human is human—that is his nature.  Jesus, being the Son of God, is therefore God—that is His nature.

The Son is the heir to all that belongs to the Father.  In the passage quoted from Psalms, the Gentiles are offered as an inheritance to the Son.  When we come to Jesus Christ, obeying His gospel, we become fellow heirs with Him (Romans 8:16-17).  He inherits all things that belongs to the Father, and He is willing to share it with us!

Of the God

Most English translations simply say “the Son of God” at the end of the verse, but the Greek says “Son of the God.”  This is a very important point, especially when you realize that Mark was writing to a Roman audience.  The Romans, like the Greeks, had a plethora of gods that they worshiped.  The legends that sprang up around these mythical deities included having children with humans.  For example, Hercules was the son of Zeus [Jupiter] in these legends; and he was not the only one.  The Romans would have been very familiar with the idea of someone being as son of one of the gods, or the son of a god.  But with the insertion of the word “the,” Mark immediately got his reader’s attention.  With just this one word, he denied the entire worship system of the Roman culture.  With just this one word, Mark said, “All the Roman and Greek gods are fake.”  With this one word, Mark said, “There is only one God.”  This would have grabbed his readers’ attention immediately.

Mark’s gospel account was probably written as an evangelistic tool.  Written to people who believed in many sons of many gods, Mark tells them “Let me tell you about the good news of the one Son of the real God, and why it’s important.”

Application

The Gospel is still good news!

For far too long, most Christians have been afraid to spread the “gospel” because they seem to view it as some theological concept that they would have to explain and defend.  Instead, we need to recognize that “gospel” simply means “good news”!  It’s not hard to spread good news to people—especially to friends and family, but even to strangers.  Do you view what Jesus did for you as good news?  Then share it as good news!  Tell people “I’ve been saved from my sins and it is so wonderful!”  It’s important that we remember that salvation through Jesus Christ really is good news.

The focus of the Gospel is Jesus the Christ!

The good news about salvation is that Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—came to this earth as a King, but lived as a servant; that He overcame temptation; that He lived His entire life without sinning even once; that His apparent defeat in being crucified was actually His triumphant victory over Satan; that though He was buried, He was raised up on the third day to live forevermore.  The good news is about what Jesus did.  Sometimes we focus so much on what our response should be (obeying the gospel) that we forget to focus on why it matters in the first place.  Never forget that the gospel is first and foremost about Jesus Christ and what He accomplished.

The good news of Jesus Christ requires a response!

While Jesus Christ is the focus of the Gospel, He has also given us the opportunity to join with Him in His victory.  It is good news for us as well!  But it requires a response.  Jesus told His disciples that the good news was to be spread to the whole world.  The ones who believed the good news and were baptized would be saved.  But the ones who refused to believe the good news would be damned.  Those are the two choices that Jesus gave—there is no third option.  You either believe the good news, and therefore obey it, or you don’t believe the good news.

Invitation

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, as written by Mark, was designed to show that the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is truly good news.  It is only through the gospel that there is salvation (Mark 16:15-16, Romans 1:16).  But in order for the good news of Jesus Christ to do you any good, you have to believe it.  In fact, before Jesus told His apostles to preach the gospel, He severely criticized them because they hadn’t believed the gospel when it was proclaimed to them (Mark 16:14).  But believing it isn’t enough, you must also act on it.  You must let the good news of Jesus Christ change the way you live—that is, you must repent of your sins.  You must acknowledge that you truly agree that the gospel is good news—that is, confess that you believe the good news of Jesus Christ.  And you must also obey the gospel of Jesus Christ—that is, you must be baptized.

The gospel is truly good news to those who will obey it.  Won’t you?

-Bradley S. Cobb

There’s a Great Day Coming

It’s real. It’s big. It’s coming. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it!  Some will welcome it with open arms, screaming salvation! Others will try in vain to escape it, crying for mercy. But it is still going to come.

What is it, you might ask?

It’s the judgment.

It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Regardless of whether someone died two thousand years ago, or if it’s someone who won’t die until two thousand years from now, every person will have to stand and be judged after their death.  For some people, it will be a wonderful day. For others, it will be a day of horrible sadness.

We’re all familiar with the song, “There’s a Great Day Coming” and it conveys these ideas well.  So, let’s take a few moments to look at how people will view this judgment when it comes.

Verse 1 – It will be a great day.

The word “great” has suffered a lot of misuse, to the point where its meaning has almost been forgotten.  Most people in the United States use the word “great” as though it means “better than good.” But that’s not the meaning of the word. It actually means something large, noteworthy, or powerful.

In the first Harry Potter movie, the wand-seller Olivander speaks of the evil wizard Voldemort, and says “he did great things, yes. Terrible. But great.”

Acts 2:20 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem as “that great and notable [or terrible] day of the Lord.”  The people in Jerusalem sure didn’t think that this meant it was a “better than good” day.

There’s a great day coming, a great day coming, there’s a great day coming by and by.

This is a large, important, noteworthy, powerful day here. It’s the day that everyone will see. It’s the day that each one will meet Jesus—the righteous Judge (II Timothy 4:8). It’s the day that each person will hear the words “guilty” or “not guilty.”

It’s also a day of separation. Up to this point, the righteous and the wicked have lived side-by-side, but on that day, there will be a separation. The righteous will go into life eternal, and the wicked shall be sent into the fires of hell for eternity (Matthew 25:31-46).

Truly, this is a great day.

There’s a great day coming, a great day coming. There’s a great day coming by and by; when the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left.

Verse 2 – For some it will be a bright happy day.

In my office is a very large dictionary published in 1964. My grandfather would go to the grocery store each week and buy this dictionary in sections. After purchasing all sixteen sections, he was given the cover that goes with it. It was part of my inheritance when he died. In it, under the word “bright” is this definition: “Characterized by cheerfulness and gaiety, pleasant, lively.” Another definition is “giving promise of prosperity or happiness, favorable.” And of course, there’s also this one: “Illustrious, glorious.”

These are the ideas, the meanings of the word “bright” that we need to keep in mind.

There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming, there’s a bright day coming by and by.

This judgment day is a day of happiness and cheerfulness. It is a day that promises eternal prosperity and happiness. It is a glorious day to be sure!

The apostle Paul looked forward to this judgment day. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

It is a day where we will be with the Lord, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).

It is a day where we will be reunited forever with loved ones who died in the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:17-18).

But that promise is only to those who are faithful (Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life—Revelation 2:10).

God doesn’t hold a spiritual lottery. He doesn’t reward people who don’t show true love for Him with obedience. You won’t accidentally make it into heaven when you’re judged.

There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming, there’s a bright day coming by and by. But its brightness shall only come to them that love the Lord.

Verse 3 – for others, it will be a horrible day.

For the people who have not given themselves to God; for the ones who haven’t submitted to the commands of Jesus Christ; for the ones who have intentionally sinned; for the ones who have not remained faithful to the Lord, this judgment day will be one of sadness and misery.

There will be sadness for wasted opportunities to obey the gospel.

There will be sadness for time spent in sin.

There will be sadness for rejected pleas to come back to God.

There will be sadness because they know what the judgment is going to be.

There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by.

“Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 25:30).

“You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt 23:33).

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers” (Matthew 25:41).

“Many will say unto me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many marvelous works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by, when the sinner shall hear his doom, “Depart, I know ye not.”

Are You Ready?

The day is coming. Make no mistake about it. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The question for you is this: what kind of day will it be for you? Are you prepared?

Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready for the judgment day? Are you ready? Are you ready for the judgment day?

Please, make yourself ready starting right now.

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – In Vain in High and Holy Lays

Welcome back to another Sermon Wednesday!  This week, we continue our series on “Singing with the Understanding.”  Enjoy and use it to God’s glory!

Introduction:

A realization struck me this week, that there was a song I knew, I sang, and I have even led—and I didn’t have a clue what the first line was even talking about: In Vain in High and Holy Lays.

What does that even mean?  Perhaps you have wondered the same thing.

The rest of the song is easier to understand, and we’ll be looking at it today.  It breaks down like this:

Verse 1 – The inexpressible love of Jesus
Verse 2 – The comforting love of Jesus
Verse 3 – The forgiving love of Jesus

Let’s join together and look at the Biblical truths expressed in this song so that we can truly follow the command to “sing with the understanding” (I Corinthians 14:15)

Verse 1 – The Inexpressible Love of Jesus

In vain

This phrase simply means that it is worthless, such as “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

In high and holy lays.

The word “lays” is an old English word that means songs.  So, these are high and holy songs, the grandest, most serene songs of praise—the ones that can give you chills when you hear it.

My soul, her grateful voice would raise.

The grateful heart sings the most meaningful, heart-felt songs possible.  The first line here describes our singing with our hearts, with truly grateful emotion, the most awe-inspiring melody and most honest and true words…

And it still wouldn’t come close to accurately describing the wonderful love of Jesus.  It can’t come close to doing justice to the praise Christ deserves.

For who can sing the worthy praise of the wonderful love of Jesus?

Though we can understand part of it, there is no way for our human minds to fully express the love of Jesus Christ for us.  Though we can try with all our might, there is no way we can adequately express our gratitude for the love of Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, but just know that the love of Jesus is so great, so wonderful, so overwhelming that we cannot ever adequately express it.

Jesus loved us in that while we were yet sinners, He died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)  And we show that love for him through praise, worship, and obedience (Hebrews 5:9, John 14:15).

The full extent of the love Christ has for us is truly inexpressible.

Verse 2 – The comforting love of Jesus.

A joy by day

When you look at the Scriptures, you can see that people who truly came to Jesus had great joy.  The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29) went on his way rejoicing after being saved by Jesus’ blood when he was baptized.  The people on Pentecost were glad to receive the instructions on how to come to Jesus (Acts 2:41).  John wrote Christians to remind them of the “full joy” they had in Christ Jesus (I John 1:4).

As we go throughout our daily routines, we should constantly remember the benefit of Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf and be joyful.  Even though troubles come in this life—sometimes extremely difficult ones—if we keep our eyes on Christ and continue to remember what He has done for us, we can truly be joyful.

Just remember Paul and Silas when they were falsely imprisoned after being beaten bloody—they sat there and sang (Acts 16:22-25).

What kind of joy do you show because of Jesus?

A Peace by night

When night comes, many people have anxiety—but that doesn’t need to describe Christians.  Every night when you lay down to sleep, you can have peace in knowing that you have come to the saving blood of Christ.  Every night, you can know that if you were to die in your sleep, you’ve got heaven awaiting you when you awake.

You have peace knowing that regardless of what happens, you’re depending on the One who matters most—Jesus Christ our Lord.  And when you get that, you have peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7).

In storms a calm

A massive storm was happening on the Sea of Galilee, and a group of lifetime fishermen were afraid they were going to die (Mark 4:37-39).  They stumbled down the steps in the boat as the waves covered the ship.  They found Jesus sleeping—SLEEPING!  How could someone sleep in the middle of that?

They woke Him up and said, “don’t you care that we’re about to die?”  Jesus spoke up and said to the storm, “peace. Be still,” and immediately the waves stopped, the wind ceased, and there was a pure calm.

In the midst of the storms of life, we can have the same kind of calm—as though we are under a protective shelter which keeps the storm from touching us.  We can have a calm, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28).  We can have a calm, knowing that so long as we focus on God’s kingdom and righteousness, He will make sure we have everything we need (Matthew 6:33).

It is because of Jesus Christ’s love for us that He died, and gave us access to the Father in prayer—which can sooth our anxieties in the storms of life (Hebrews 4:16).

In darkness light

Jesus is described as “the light” (John 1:6-10).  In a world of darkness, Jesus is the light.  When all around us seems frightening, like there is no hope, Jesus Christ shines as a bright beacon lighting our way to heaven.  Jesus gives us hope and helps brighten our days.

We don’t have to grope around blindly—Jesus has provided the light for us to walk safely.

In pain, a balm

When we suffer hardships, emotional pain, we can look to the Great Physician (Luke 5:31) and He has provided the spiritual ointment needed to help heal our hurts.  We look to Him, and remember what really matters.

We look to Him, and realize that we’ve not got it as bad as we might think—after all, how many of us have been stripped naked, beaten bloody, publicly mocked and ridiculed, and then been nailed to a cross and left there to die?

Jesus brings healing to our souls, and cares about our lives.

In weakness, might

Leaning on Jesus, Leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms, leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.

When we are weak, we lean on Jesus Christ who gives us strength; He lifts us up as we walk beside Him.  Paul said it this way, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

He also said, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).

Is the wonderful love of Jesus.

All of these blessings comes because Christ loved us enough to die for us.

Verse 3 – The Forgiving Love of Jesus.

My hope for pardon when I call.

For non-Christians, pardon from sins comes when they call on the name of the Lord—turning to Him and His authority in obedience.  Calling on the name of the Lord (done by obedience in baptism) brings about pardon from our sins (Acts 22:16).  Calling on the name of the Lord (which was described as “repent and be baptized“) saves us (Acts 2:21, 38, 41, 47).

For Christians, pardon from sins come when they go to God in prayerful repentance.  Simon the sorcerer (a Christian) was told to repent and pray to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).  John told Christians to confess their sins to God, and they would be forgiven (I John 1:9).

We can have boldness to go to the Father in prayer BECAUSE of the wonderful love of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16).  But without Christ, there is no pardon for our sins.

My trust for lifting when I fall.

When we stumble along the way, we have the help of Jesus to get back up again and keep walking with Him.  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7).

The sins mentioned in that verse are those times when we stumble. But so long as we keep trying, Jesus lifts us up to help us on our way.

Love lifted me, love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me.

We can trust in Jesus to lift us back up when we have asked for forgiveness.

In life, in death, my all in all.

We live our lives for Christ—and He helps us through it all by His word and the work that He has already done on our behalf.  And when we do that, we know that when death comes, we can embrace it, knowing that we will go on to be with the Lord, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).

Our entire existence, whether we live or die, should all center on Christ Jesus.

Conclusion:

Wonderful love, wonderful love, wonderful love of Jesus!

It is through the love of Christ that we are saved, that we have hope, that we have comfort, and that we have forgiveness.

Remember that the next time troubles come along and you don’t know where to turn.  Remember that the next time you sing this song—The love of Jesus is what our entire existence depends on.

He loved you so much that He came here and willingly took your place—your death sentence because of your sins (Romans 3:23).  His love also revealed the way by which you can be saved—believe and obey the gospel.

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – A Wonderful Savior

This week (since we’re back home now), we will be continuing our series of sermons dealing with songs that we sing.  This series is called “Singing with the Understanding.”  Enjoy and use to God’s glory!

Introduction:

If you look through your songbook at the names of the songwriters, you’ll notice that some people appear semi-frequently.  L.O. Sanderson and Tillet S. Teddlie are two that come immediately to my mind.  Another one that you are probably more familiar with is Fanny J. Crosby.

Mrs. Crosby wrote hundreds of hymn lyrics, and others put them to music.  One thing that you might not know about her is that she was blind.  One of the things that stands out in her songs is that in most of them, she mentions seeing.  For example, in the song “To God be the Glory,” the last verse says “our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.”

Today, we will be taking a look at another song she wrote, and the Biblical truths expressed in it.  The song is “A Wonderful Savior.”

Verse 1 – In Jesus we have safety.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord.

Jesus died to rescue people from sin.  His is the only sacrifice with any true power—power enough to cover the sins of all those before Him and all those after Him (Hebrews 9:15).  He died for the sins of the whole world! (I John 2:2)

Truly, there is no other Savior like Jesus.  And there is no other Savior BUT Jesus (Acts 4:12).

A wonderful Savior to me.

He is not just the general savior of the whole world; He is our personal Savior as well.  He didn’t get a huge net and gather up everyone at once to safety—He saves people individually.

He’s my Savior. He saved me.  He can save you too. He’s waiting at the water to save you.  There ain’t nothin’ like being saved—freed from the sins that were holding you down and trying to kill you.

Jesus is my wonderful Savior. Is He yours?

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

This is safety. This is protection.  It’s as though you are in the midst of a storm of sin, and there is a crevice cut into the side of a mountain—a place of refuge—a place of safety from the storms of life.

God is our refuge—Jesus is the one who brings us to that place of safety.

Where rivers of pleasure I see

Joys indescribable can be ours if we are in Jesus.  Only in Jesus can we have salvation.  Only in Jesus can we get to heaven, for He has blazed the trail for His people (Hebrews 6:20). Only those in Christ can answer “yes” to the question “shall we gather at the river that flows from the throne of God?”

In Christ, we can see the glories of heaven and the joys that can be ours here and in the world to come!

Verse 2 – In Jesus we have strength.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away.

You’re walking around, carrying a burden of sin.  It’s overwhelming, and it drags you down to the point where you can’t even move—you’re trapped.  Then Jesus comes and removes the weight—suddenly you’re free! You’ve been liberated!

My friends, that’s what Jesus does for you when you are baptized into Him.  He washes away all of your sins (Acts 22:16).  The burden is gone!

He holdeth me up

It’s as though we are walking side by side with Jesus; and He’s supporting us, holding us up.  We don’t have strength on our own to walk right—we can’t get to heaven on our own strength.  Jesus is there helping us along—when we stumble, He’s there to keep us from falling (Jude 24).

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

The problem comes when someone lets go of Jesus, quits leaning on His everlasting arms, or even pushes Him away.  But so long as you are holding on to Christ, trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, He will keep you from falling.

And I shall not be moved.

When we are walking with Jesus, nothing has the power to knock us over.  More powerful is He that is in you than he that is in the world (I John 4:4).  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

If we are in Christ and walking in the Light, then “like a tree planted by the waters,” we can say “I shall not be moved!”

He giveth me strength as my day.

We lean on Jesus for our strength, for we have none on our own.  He is the one who gives us strength.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)!

Verse 3 – In Jesus we have reason to sing.

With numberless blessings, each moment He crowns.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!

We are given constant blessings from God—from Jesus Christ our Savior.  We have access to God in prayer, we have the confidence of our salvation, we have the fantastic family of God—the church—to help us through each and every day.  Numberless blessings given to us every day!

And they only come through Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

And filled with His fullness divine.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).  When we fill ourselves with the word of God, then the power of Christ is in us.  And when Christ shall come again, we shall be changed as He was and ascend to our heavenly home!

I sing in my rapture, o Glory to God

When we examine the great blessings that God has given us, and the even better things that await us, it causes us to be overjoyed.  We sing “Hallelujah, praise Jehovah!

We sing “Thank you Lord for loving me and thank you Lord for blessing me, thank you Lord for making me whole and saving my soul!

Even when things aren’t going well for us here on earth, we can still sing, joyfully remembering what awaits us up there (remember Paul and Silas in Acts 16:22-25—singing in prison).

For such a redeemer as mine.

We sing glory to God because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Glory to God for sending the One who paid the price to save our souls from eternal damnation!

Verse 4 – In Jesus we have eternal salvation.

When clothed in His brightness,

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (I Corinthians 15:51-54).

We will be clothed in glory, clothed in brightness!

Transported, I rise to meet Him in clouds of the sky.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

When Christ comes back, all of His people will meet Him in the air, and be escorted to heaven!

His perfect salvation

When Christ comes again, salvation is completed!  When Christ comes again, our battles will all be over, and heaven will be our eternal home!

His wonderful love

He loved us enough to die for us, and “greater love hath no man that to lay down his life for a friend” (John 15:13).

I’ll shout with the millions on high!

There will be an innumerable amount of people surrounding the throne of God in heaven, singing praises to God the Father, and Jesus the Christ throughout eternity.

When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be, when we all get to heaven, we’ll sing and shout the victory!

Conclusion:

Do you want to be one of those joyful millions who can’t help but singing in heaven?  Jesus invites you to join Him, to become one of His people.

He said, “come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy-laden (carrying a heavy burden) and I will give you rest…for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).  And when you do that, it’s as though—even though you are in a dry desert—Jesus has given you shade and protection, and provides all the water you could ever need.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land. He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with His hand.

The words here seems to be taken from when God allowed Moses to see Him from behind as He walked by (Exodus 33:20-23), where God showed His love and respect for Moses by letting him see His glory as He passed by.  But the idea in the chorus is that Jesus holds us close and protects us.

For the great invitation to have any power, you have to first hear it, and believe that it is real.  Then make that decision to take Jesus up on His offer, leaving your past sins in the past.  Confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Jesus invites you, and so do we.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Today, we continue our series on “Singing with the Understanding.”  We thank you all for the encouraging emails that you have sent us regarding this series.

Introduction:

Have you made Christ your king?  When someone is made the leader (be it of a city, state, or nation), they hold the office, even though some people may not recognize their authority.

Christ is indeed the King over all, but do you submit to that authority?  Have you made Christ the king in your life?

The song we will be looking at today deals with the power of Christ—His authority—and the recognition of it.

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”

Verse 1 – He has authority over the angels.

The song starts with its main theme:

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

It means “Everyone, recognize the power of the authority of Christ!”  Jesus claimed all authority in heaven and on earth after His resurrection (Matthew 28:18-19).  The first three verses of this song express this truth in different areas. First…

Let angels prostrate fall

He has authority over the angels.  Though He was made to be a little lower than the angels by becoming man, through His death He took a place of authority over all (Hebrews 2:7-9).  The angels are subject to Him and are commanded to worship Him (Hebrews 1:4-6).  Angels are powerful beings, without question, but their power is subject to Christ (Revelation 22:16).

The phrase “Let angels prostrate fall” means “let angels bow down before Him.”

He is the royal ruler: King and Lord of all!

Bring forth the royal diadem

This is the crown of the king.  He is the Son of God (the King) and through inheritance has taken His rule with God as king (Hebrews 1:3-4).

And crown Him Lord of all.

He has been put over all things (Hebrews 2:7).  The angels are commanded to recognize Christ’s authority.  His authority stretches beyond heaven—but that’s described in the next verses.

Verse 2 – He has authority over God’s people.

The church is the recipient of the promises to Israel—we are spiritual Israel.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race.

Spiritual Israel is not the same as physical Israel:  For they are not all Israel who are of Israel (Romans 9:6).

The true Israel of God are the ones who follow His commands.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy on the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).

The seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made are those who are his children by faith

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all (Romans 4:13-16, see also Romans 2:28-29).

The blood-bought ones should recognize Christ’s authority in all things.

Ye ransomed from the fall.

To be ransomed means to be purchased—bought back.  Christ has purchased us from sin with His blood (Acts 20:28).  The fall is our sinful state—for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Hail Him who saves you by His grace.

Christians—recognize Christ’s authority, for He is the One who saved you!  Christ’s saving work isn’t a one-time thing—He continually saves us.  When we are baptized, He saves us.  As we stumble on our walk with Him, He picks us up and dusts us off so long as we’re still trying.  As we repent of our sins, He keeps saving us (I John 1:9).

He has saved us by His grace.

“Grace” is a much-abused topic these days.  But we need to remember that if Christ didn’t want to save us, we couldn’t be saved.  There’s nothing that mankind did that made Jesus say, “wow! I have to save these people.”  It was completely His grace that made the way for us to be saved.  It was completely by His grace that He made that way known to everyone through His word.

We still have to accept it on His terms, but we can never forget that it is God’s grace that saves us.

And crown Him Lord of all.

All Christians must submit themselves to Christ.  And not just that, but recognize His complete sovereignty—His total rule over our lives.  Have you crowned Christ as the King of your life?

Verse 3 – Christ has authority over the entire human race.

This cannot be stressed enough—everyone is amenable to the rule and law of Jesus Christ!

There are some in the church who are trying to sidestep some of God’s laws by teaching that non-Christians aren’t amenable to the law of Christ.  By this, it is meant that the rules in the Bible don’t apply to anyone unless they’re Christians.

Here’s the problem with that reasoning—if they don’t apply to non-Christians, then non-Christians cannot be lost, because they aren’t under any law.  Where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 4:15).

If this doctrine were true, there would be no point in evangelizing either—because we’d be bringing them into a law that they could possibly break and thus be eternally damned!

Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball

Everyone, regardless of their family, ethnic background, or location, is under consideration here.  Everyone on earth is subject to Christ.

Terrestrial ball = land-sphere, this earth.

To Him, all majesty ascribe.

Everyone on earth should recognize the authority of Jesus Christ and submit to it.  Part of that responsibility is ours—to take the message of Christ to others so that they know about it.

Everyone on earth—even non-Christians—need to recognize Christ as the one supreme King.  This is what it means to ascribe all majesty to Him.  It is to recognize His complete authority—that He is supreme.

And crown Him Lord of all.

Non-Christians—by definition—have not crowned Christ as their Lord and Savior.  If you’re not a Christian, then you are living in rebellion to the Supreme King and Judge, Jesus Christ.

Verse 4 –  The reward for submission to the king—heaven!

Why should we recognize and submit to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?  This verse describes it for us!

O that with yonder sacred throng…

This is to be with the saved in that great by and by in the sky.  This is to be with the redeemed, to hear our name when the roll is called up yonder.  This is the sacred (holy) throng (multitude of people) yonder (over there in heaven).

We at His feet may bow

We will be able to worship Christ forever in heaven (Revelation 7:9-10).  We will be in His presence (you have to be in His presence to be able to bow at His feet).

Eternity in heaven with God and Christ—free from all care, happy and bright, Jesus is there, He is the light.

We’ll join the everlasting song…

Singing praises to God forever—continual joy, unending happiness.  In short, heaven!

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less day to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!

Everlasting life in heaven, never to be separated again!

And praise Him Lord of all.

Those who submit to the authority of Christ here on earth will have the pleasure and desire to praise and thank Him for all eternity in heaven.

Conclusion

Christ Jesus is the King over all creation—of angels and of ALL people—including you!  Have you made Him king of YOUR life?  Have you acknowledged His authority and submitted to it so that you can go to heaven?

Christ has set forth His law, and it’s not hard.  Believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God.  Repent of your sins.  Be Baptized in order to have your sins forgiven.  Then afterwards continue to do your best to serve your King.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – A Mighty Fortress

Welcome back!  This week, we present to you another sermon in the “Singing with Understanding” series.  We are looking at the words of songs that we sing, and showing the biblical ideas behind them so we can truly understand what we’re singing.  In case you missed the previous lesson (God’s Family), you can read it here.

Introduction

The name of Martin Luther is familiar to most people.  He is the founder of the Lutheran Church.  He was one of the catalysts in the Reformation Movement back in the 1500s.  He was a former Catholic priest who nailed a list of 95 things that the Catholics were doing that he believed were opposed to the Bible.

He famously declared that the Pope was the “man of sin” described in II Thessalonians 2.  The Catholics afterwards declared that Martin Luther was the “man of sin” described in that chapter.

But one thing you might not know about him is that he also wrote hymns—and we still sing one of them occasionally today.

The song is called “A Mighty Fortress.”

There are different stories about the first time this song was sung publicly.  But all are agreed that the idea was taken from Psalm 46.

  • Some have said that it was sung by Martin Luther and others as they were entering the room where they were to be examined by a Catholic inquiry against them.
  • Others have said that it was a song written for armies to sing as they battled the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks.

Whichever it was, the point of the song was to encourage the singers to rely on God for strength.

Today, our lesson will come from the biblical truths expressed in this song.

Verse 1 – The combatants in the great war.
Verse 2 – Our strength in the war.
Verse 3 –The war continues

Verse 1 – The Combatants in the Great War.

God is the first Combatant in this war.

A Mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.

There is safety and security in God.  He’s like a strong, fortified castle that cannot be breached.  You are completely safe from death inside His walls.  A “bulwark” is a defensive wall, a means of protection—and God’s protection never fails!

Romans 8:38-39 – No outside force has the power to separate us from the love of God which is IN Christ Jesus.

Our helper He amidst the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

If we were to rearrange the words to our normal usage, it would be He is our helper, prevailing in the midst of the things which have the power to kill (aka, sin).

In James 1, Christians are told to rejoice in the midst of trials and temptations; they are told to go to God for help in the midst of temptation.  So, in the midst of a world of sin and surrounded by temptation, God is our helper—He can help us overcome the enemy!

But who is the enemy?

Satan is the other combatant in the war. 

He’s still fighting against us.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.

Or, Our ancient foe is still seeking to harm us.  Satan is not some new enemy; he’s our ancient foe.  Satan is the originator of all things evil, for he has been evil from the beginning (John 8:44).  He is always described in the Bible as evil—thus he has always been opposed to God.  And he is continually trying to destroy us.

Our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).  He is constantly firing flaming arrows at us (Ephesians 6:16).  He is indeed a very powerful enemy.

His craft and power are great

His methods (craft) are strong and effective.  After all, everyone who’s ever lived has fallen prey to his methods (Romans 3:23).  All, that is, except one—Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:20-21).

His power is great.  He is a strong enemy—defeating him isn’t easy.  Just try to go a week without losing at least one battle against him.

and armed with cruel hate.

Unlike the United States has historically been, Satan views the enemy with hatred.  The US, as a general rule, treats their enemies with respect and kindness (see the general treatment of prisoners of war, or even terrorists).

Satan is fueled by hatred, and doesn’t just want victory—he wants to destroy us completely!  He is “seeking whom he may devour.”

on earth is not his equal.

No one on earth can stand against Satan on his own.

 

This thought leads us into the second verse.

Verse 2 – Our strength in the War.

We touched on the two combatants in the war, but something that needs to be remembered is that we are in this war as well.

Remember Job?  There was a war between God and Satan, and the battlefield to determine the winner was Job himself.  Satan is not just God’s adversary, but OURS as well (I Peter 5:8).

Since there is no one on earth equal to Satan’s power, we cannot defeat him on our own.

Did we, in our own strength, confide, our striving would be losing.

Satan is too powerful for us to defeat on our own.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Every person is a slave to sin if he is on his own.

There is good news, however: we don’t have to fight Satan alone—God has sent one to defeat Satan for us!

Our striving would be losing were not the right One on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.

God so loved the world that He sent someone save people from perishing (John 3:16).  Our strength in the battle—our ability to overcome Satan—is found in one Man.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He.

  • It is Jesus Christ who has fought for us.
  • It is Jesus Christ who has already won the victory (Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 12:7-11).
  • It is in Jesus Christ that we win the victory as well (I John 2:13).
  • The One who fights with us is more powerful than the one who fights against us (I John 4:4)!

Lord Sabaoth is His name.

The word Sabaoth means armies.  Christ is the captain of the armies of God (Joshua 5:13-15).  Christ is called “the captain of our salvation” (Hebrews 2:10).  In Revelation, He is described as the leader of the army of God (12:7-11).

From age to age the same.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  He is eternal—He is God (John 1:1).  If God (Christ) be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

And He must win the battle.

The outcome of the war has already been determined, for Christ has won!  Now, all that we have to do is choose which side we are on!

Verse 3 – The war continues.

Even though Christ has won the victory for us, we must still continue with the battle here on earth.

And though this world, with evil filled, should threaten to undo us

Just because Jesus has won the victory, that doesn’t mean we can rest.  We must be vigilant because Satan is still on the attack (I Peter 5:8).  Christians cannot get the idea that we can sit back and relax!

We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us.

Christians have need to fight, but they have no need to fear, for God has given us a spirit of power, not of fear (II Timothy 1:7).  God has already determined that His truth will endure; His truth will triumph; and that victory is through US!

  • WE—the church—are the pillar and ground of the truth (that which hold up the truth).
  • WE—the church—are the ones who have been entrusted with the faith (Jude 3).

God’s word will stand forever, and we are the ones who are supposed to carry it to others so that we can conquer hearts!  In order for us to be victors in the war, we have to stay focused on heaven!

Let goods and kindred go.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).  Don’t be like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:29-30).  We can’t let the things of this world take our eyes off the prize: eternal life in heaven with God!

This mortal life also; the body they may kill.

When this song was written, the Catholic Church had threatened to take property of those who fought against it.  You could be tried and executed for heresy if you left the Catholic Church.  So when this song was written, they had a great fear of being killed for their faith.

In the first century, it was much the same—the Jews killed many Christians.  But the point is that even though they may be faced with death, they must remain faithful (Revelation 2:10).

God’s word abideth still, His kingdom is forever.

Regardless what happens to us, God’s word still stands.  Even if thousands—millions—of Christians fall away, God’s word still says what it says.

God’s kingdom will never fall.  It is eternally victorious—and those who are part of that kingdom have eternal life in heaven awaiting them (Matthew 25:34).

Conclusion:

Let us never forget that we are in the greatest war in history!  The two greatest enemies of all (God and Satan) are fighting on the biggest battlefield of all—the human race!  And WE are in that war!

We have a promise of protection and help from one side if we join Him.  We have a promise of being destroyed if we join the other side.

Which side are you on?  God never fails.  We cannot win the battle on our own; we can only win it through Jesus Christ.  But that victory is guaranteed if we stay on God’s side.

Whose side are you on?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – The Divisions of the Bible

Back after a few weeks’ hiatus, we are proud to continue our series on “Fundamentals of the Faith.”  And you might have noticed that we’ve moved this feature up a day.  Instead of “Sermon Thursday,” we’ll be having “Sermon Wednesday.”

Enjoy!  And, as always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know!

Introduction:

Everyone understands the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament…right?

  • The Old Testament is still binding today for all people.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today, but only for the Jews.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today, but only for Christians.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today except for the animal sacrifices.
  • The Old Testament is not binding on anyone today in any way.

OK, so there’s some confusion about the Old Testament; but everyone understands the New Testament, right?

  • The New Testament only applies to those who have become Christians.
  • The New Testament applies to all people.
  • The New Testament applies to everyone except Jews.
  • The New Testament begins in Matthew.
  • The New Testament doesn’t begin until Acts 2.
  • The New Testament didn’t really officially become effective until Jerusalem was destroyed.

Every one of these things are said by people about the two testaments in the Bible.  To say there is confusion about the Old Testament and New Testament is an understatement.

Today, we’ll look at the two divisions of the Bible, who they apply to, and why.

The two divisions explained.

We get the names “Old Testament” and “New Testament” from the Bible.

  • II Corinthians 3:14 – “…the reading of the Old Testament.”
  • This is also called the “first testament” (Hebrews 9:15, 18).
  • I Corinthians 11:25 – “this is the New Testament in my blood…”
  • See also II Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 9:15.

What is a “testament”?

This is the same as a covenant, an agreement between two or more parties.  There are two types of covenants: suzerainty and parity (don’t worry, you don’t need to remember the names).

A parity covenant is an agreement between two or more parties of equal standing.  It’s like a business merger.  God is never involved in these kind of covenants, because no one is equal to Him.

A suzerainty covenant is where the more powerful party sets the rules.  This is like the covenants the Roman Empire had with the nations it conquered.  Every covenant involving God is this kind; He is the powerful party, and He sets the rules.

So, when you see the word “testament,” think of the word “covenant.”

The two covenants (or testaments) were both given by God at different times.

The first covenant (the Old Testament), which is also called “the Law of Moses” (Malachi 4:4), was established by God in the book of Exodus (see Exodus 20) and includes all the commands and restrictions given in Exodus through Deuteronomy.

Exodus through Deuteronomy? What about the other 35 books of the Old Testament?

Genesis is the story leading up to the giving of the Law of Moses, beginning with creation, and going through the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose family is the focus of the rest of the Old Testament).

Genesis contained teachings and commands that would be the foundation of the covenant that was given (such as circumcision, tithing, animal sacrifices, etc…).  But they were not the Covenant itself.

The books after Deuteronomy give the history of Jacob’s family (the Israelites) after the Law of Moses (the first covenant) was given.  Joshua through Esther give, basically, a chronological history of the Israelites until the 400’s BC.  Psalms though Song of Solomon are writings of some of the famous Israelites mentioned in the historical books (primarily David and Solomon).

Isaiah through Malachi (the “prophets”) contain some historical narratives, but their primary focuses are (1) attempts to bring the Israelites back to faithfulness, and (2) prophecies of things that had not yet taken place including many prophecies about Christ and the church.

The new covenant (New Testament), which is also called “the Law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), was established by God in the book of Acts (see Acts 2), and includes all the commands and restrictions given in Acts through Revelation.

But what about the gospels? Where do they fit in?

Like Genesis, the gospel accounts tell the story leading up to a covenant.  They contain teachings and commands that would be foundational to the new covenant (such as “love one another,” faith, repentance, confession, baptism, and others).

The book of Acts is a brief history of the New Covenant people (the church) from its establishment on Pentecost until around AD 62.

The books of Romans through Jude (the “epistles” or “letters”) are like the books of prophecy in the Old Testament—written with two main focuses (1) to bring Christians to a higher level of faithfulness, and to a lesser extent (2) prophecies about events which had not yet taken place (some of the epistles—like Philemon—don’t include any prophecies).

Revelation is like the epistles, except that it focuses heavily on prophecy about things which had not yet taken place when it was written, but it still encourages Christians to a higher level of faithfulness.

There are two covenants in the Bible, both given by God.

The question before us now is…

Who do the covenants apply to?

Covenants made with specific people do not apply to those outside of that group.

The covenants made between the Roman Empire and the nations it conquered do not apply AT ALL to other nations.  China, which was never conquered by Rome, was never in one of those covenants.  You may say “that’s a big bag of duh right there,” but it is important we point this out.

Covenants only apply to the people who are involved in it.

But just as clear, we must point out that covenants apply to everyone involved in it.

If Rome conquered a nation, then every single person in that nation was now involved—no exceptions.

Covenants made for or at a specific time do not apply outside of that timeframe.

A covenant is an agreement that says “from now on, this is how things are going to be.”  It only becomes enforceable when it begins—not before.  And if the covenant has a cut-off date, it is no longer effective or enforceable after that date.

It’s like a football contract: the player cannot demand that the team pay him for the years he wasn’t under contract, nor can he demand that they keep paying him after the contract has expired.

You may think that this is so obvious that I shouldn’t even bring it up, but it needs to be said because of some of the confusion about the Old Testament and New Testament.

With these things in mind, let’s look at who the old and new covenants applied to.

The Old Testament was given to a specific people.  God had established a covenant with Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob to give their descendants the land of Canaan (Exodus 6:4-5).  In Exodus 20:2, God announces that He is speaking directly to the group of people that He had just led out of the bondage of Egypt.

  • What group had He led out of Egypt? The Israelites.
  • Who was God speaking to? The Israelites.
  • Was He speaking to anyone else? No.

Immediately after stating who He was addressing, God gave the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, all the Israelites, and no one but the Israelites.

God never commanded that Gentiles (non-Jews) follow the Ten Commandments or the rest of the Law of Moses—it was only ever for the Jews.

This Law of Moses was not intended to last forever—it was given for a specific period of time.

God, through Jeremiah, foretold that God would establish a “new covenant” with His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  God specifically states in that passage that it is not the same covenant as the one He made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.

When a new covenant is made, then any old ones are no longer valid.

A football player cannot play under two separate contracts with the same team at the same time.  Only one contract is valid.  So, when this “new covenant” was made, the old one was no longer valid.

Jesus said that the “new testament” (covenant) was in His blood—which was shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).  Christ’s blood was shed on the cross (John 19:33-34).

Jesus connected His death and remission of sins, saying it must first be preached in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).  Remission of sins was first offered in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:38).

The New Testament (covenant) began on Pentecost—making the Old Testament no longer valid beginning at that point.

The only group that the Old Testament was ever binding on was the Jews, and that Testament was no longer in effect, starting on the Day of Pentecost after the death of Jesus Christ.  The Law of Christ—the New Testament—became effective beginning in Jerusalem on the same day.

It was first a covenant with the Jews only, but beginning in Acts 10 it was expanded to include the Gentiles as well.  See Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe: to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

There are only two groups of people in the world, so far as Jews were concerned—Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles).  The New Testament applies to both groups, therefore it is a universal covenant.  It applies to every person—none are excluded.

Those who reject it are still subject to the punishments contained in it for disobedience, for breaking the laws.

Because there is only one Covenant in force today—and it is a universal covenant –THAT is the covenant we need to be most concerned about studying.

We still read and study the Old Testament, because it helps us understand God, how He works, His actions towards His people in the past, and for great encouragement from examples of faithful followers then.  But we need to remember that the entire purpose of the Old Testament was to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-27).

The New Testament is what we live under today, which is why we should focus most of all on its pages.

Conclusion:

The New Testament says that all have sinned, and thus all deserve death (Romans 6:23, 3:23).

The New Testament says that in order to become part of God’s family and receive the blessings of the New Covenant, you have to believe in Christ, repent of your sins, and be baptized to have those sins washed away.

After doing that, the New Testament commands that we continually strive for a life of greater faithfulness to Him, repenting when we’ve messed up (Acts 8:22), and keeping our focus on heaven so that we don’t lose what we’ve worked for (II John 8).

Make the decision to obey the New Testament of Jesus Christ today!

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Thursday – What is Baptism?

Thanks for joining us.  For the next several weeks on Sermon Thursday, we will be looking at things that we’re calling The Fundamentals of the Faith.  These are things that each Christian needs to know and understand so they can then help to teach others.  This week, we deal with the question, What is baptism? Enjoy!

Introduction:

Everyone knows what baptism means!  Some folks might say that, but they’d be wrong.  Instead, baptism is one of the things—religiously speaking—that is the most misunderstood by people.

Its substance is misunderstood. Some say it is baptism in water, others say it is only baptism in the Holy Spirit, others say both, and still others say it is just being baptized in the word of God.

Its mode (how it is to be done) is misunderstood.  Some say sprinkling, some say pouring, some say immersion, some say it is completely mental.

Its subjects (who is supposed to be baptized) are misunderstood. Some say babies, others say believers only, others say adults only, some say Jews-only, others say I can get baptized in your place for you.

Its meaning is misunderstood. Some say it is an outward sign of an inward grace, others say it is to add you to a denomination after you’re saved, still others say that it is an act of obedience which in turn saves you.

With all this confusion about almost every aspect of baptism, can we really know what baptism means?  Yes we can, by looking at the Scriptures.  Let’s empty our minds of everything we think we know about baptism, and let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

The substance of baptism (what one is to be baptized in).

Baptism is first mentioned in the book of Matthew, chapter three, when John the baptizer comes on the scene.

The Scriptures state that John baptized them in Jordan (Matthew 3:6).  This is the Jordan River.  John himself clearly stated that he baptized with water (Matthew 3:11).   When Jesus was baptized by John, He came “up immediately out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

It is true that a baptism of the Holy Spirit is also mentioned, but that is one that would be performed by Jesus Christ—and Him only (Matthew 3:11).  So, we’ve got two different kinds of baptism mentioned in this chapter.  Are they both still valid today? And how can we know?

Ephesians 4:4-6 (which was written at least 25 years after Jesus died) says there is “one Lord, one faith, ONE baptism.” So, by the time that book was written, there was only one valid baptism.  So, which one is it?

Acts 8:35-36 (which took place after Jesus died) says that Philip began to preach Jesus to this man.  And after hearing Jesus preached to him, the man (a eunuch) said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”  Based on what he had been taught by Philip (who had been sent by God), the only baptism that was important to him was baptism in water.

I Peter 3:20-21 (written around the same time as Ephesians) says, “eight souls were saved by water, this corresponds to baptism which now saves you, too” (SENT).   The only baptism which matters is baptism in water.

OK, it involves water, but is it sprinkling? Pouring? Being fully submerged under water?

The Mode of baptism (how baptism is to be done).

Just calling something baptism doesn’t make it baptism.  Calling a rose a skunk doesn’t make it a skunk.  The word baptism has a meaning.  But, just to be sure, let’s look at how baptism in water is described in the Bible.

Acts 8:38-39And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Did you see what I saw there? Baptism requires going into the water and coming out of the water. That’s interesting.

John 3:23John was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there.

So, baptism requires much water. That’s noteworthy to remember.

Romans 6:3-4Don’t you know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him in baptism into death

Interesting. Baptism is described as a burial.

Put these things together:

  1. Baptism requires much water.
  2. Baptism requires going into the water and coming out of the water.
  3. Baptism requires a burial in water.

Just using what the Bible says, we can know that baptism is…

  1. NOT sprinkling water on someone (this doesn’t require much water, going into the water, nor is it a burial in water).
  2. NOT pouring water on someone (this doesn’t require much water, going into the water and coming out of the water, nor is it a burial in water).
  3. Baptism IS being completely submerged, immersed in water.  This requires much water, requires going into and coming out of the water, and it is a burial in water.

The Subjects of baptism (who can be baptized).

Ok, we’ve figured out completely from the Bible that baptism must be in water, and that it is being immersed, completely submerged in water and being brought back up; but who is eligible to be baptized?

Again, let’s not guess or use man’s opinion; let’s just look at what the Bible has to say about it.

Mark 16:16He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.

This verse makes it pretty clear that the person being baptized must be capable of believing (in Jesus Christ).

Acts 2:38repent and be baptized, every one of you.

This makes it pretty clear that whoever is baptized has to be capable of repenting (that is, realizing their sins and turning away from them).

Now I want you to consider something with me.

Babies are incapable of believing in Jesus Christ, and they don’t have the mental capacity to even understand what sin is.   Babies are not candidates for baptism at all, ever.

What about small children?  They are not old enough to comprehend their own sin, nor mature enough to understand what baptism is.

So, according to the Bible, who is eligible for baptism?

If you believe in Jesus Christ, and are willing to repent of your sins (and mature enough to understand what that means), then you are eligible for baptism.  Some people reach that point of maturity earlier than others. If you are an adult, you have reached that point. Teenagers—you want to be treated like an adult? Then you’ve reached that age as well.

The Bible teaches baptism is a burial in water, and the only ones it applies to are those who are old enough to believe in Christ and repent of their sins.

But what is the purpose of baptism?

The Meaning (purpose) of baptism.

I think we can all agree that if the Bible tells us baptism has a specific meaning or purpose, then that should end the discussion.

So, let’s let the Bible speak about the purpose of baptism.

Acts 2:38 – Baptism is “for the remission of sins.”  The word “remission” means “forgiveness.”  So, baptism is for forgiveness of sins.

Does that mean “because sins have already been forgiven” or does it mean “so that your sins can be forgiven”?

That’s a great question, and easily answered.  That verse says that two things (and both of them are commanded) are “for forgiveness of sins”—REPENTANCE and baptism.   Acts 8:22 says “Repent, therefore, of this, your wickedness, and pray to God, if perhaps the thought of your heart might be forgiven.

There’s no getting around it: God will not forgive sin without someone repenting first. So, when Acts 2:38 says repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, it has to mean so that your sins will be forgiven—because God will not forgive someone’s sins unless they repent first.

So, baptism is in order to have your sins forgiven.

Acts 22:16 – Baptism washes away your sins.

A very devout man was praying hard for three days, and God sent another man to him.  This man that God sent said, “why are you waiting, get up and be baptized, washing away your sins.”

Baptism is in order to have your sins washed away.

Mark 16:16 – baptism is for salvation.  He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.  That’s pretty plain.

I Peter 3:21baptism does also now save you.  There’s not really much comment needed there.  The Bible plainly states that baptism saves you.

The only conclusion that you can make from these verses is that you have to be baptized if you want to be saved.  There are many other passages we could go to which show this just as clearly.

What About You?

Now, perhaps is the time to ask the most important question—do YOU need to be baptized?

Perhaps you’ll say “I was baptized when I was a baby.” If a baby is baptized, then all that happened was that the baby got wet—because the baby had no sins to wash away in the first place. That baptism doesn’t match what’s in the Bible, and so it wasn’t really baptism.

Maybe you’ll say, “I was baptized when I was younger.” To that, I simply ask this: why were you baptized?  If you were baptized because you believed in Jesus and you knew you needed to be baptized in order to have your sins forgiven, then that is great!  However, many younger people are baptized because their friends were baptized and they didn’t want to feel left out.   Many younger people are baptized because they feel like it is expected of them.  Many younger people are baptized without really understanding why they were doing it.

If any of these describe you, then were you really baptized like the Bible says to be baptized?

Maybe you’ll say, “I was baptized in the Baptist Church” or some other religious group.  I have no doubt that you did it with the best of intentions.  In fact, I praise you for wanting to follow God’s will.  However, I have to ask you this: were you baptized for the reasons that the Bible gives?

  1. Were you baptized so that your sins could be washed away?
  2. Were you baptized for the purpose of being saved?
  3. Or did you believe you were saved before you were baptized?

You see, while these religious groups have many things that are praiseworthy, a lot of them say that baptism doesn’t save you.

But the Bible says it does.

They say that baptism is so you can be part of the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church or whatever church AFTER you’re saved.

The Bible says that baptism is what saves you—only one of them can be right.

So, the question that you have to honestly, sincerely ask yourself is this: If I was baptized for the wrong reasons, where does that leave me?

I don’t know about you, but that is not a predicament I’d want to be in.   The Bible speaks of a group of men who had been baptized, and thought their baptism was just fine.  However, they discovered that their baptism wasn’t the right baptism.  They were then baptized properly, having their sins forgiven.  You can read about them in Acts 19.

Conclusion:

My friends, don’t let there be any doubt about your salvation.  Don’t let there be any doubt about whether you were baptized for the right reasons. Right now, take care of it by coming to God, believing in Jesus Christ, leaving your sins behind, and being baptized according to the Scriptures. When you do that, you don’t have to ever doubt it.

Some of you might be thinking, “I’m not sure if I need to be baptized properly or not.”   To you, I say this: do it. Do it to be sure.

It could be that your baptism was proper in the first place, and you will just be getting wet—but you will have a pure, confident conscious.  But it could also be that you had good reason to doubt—and this would save your soul.   Please, come be baptized now!

Sermon Thursday – Idols

We are excited to present to you this sermon, written by Paul Cobb (age 13).  Other than formatting, nothing has been changed from his hand-written sermon.  He is presently working on some articles that we will be sharing with you in the coming weeks!

Today, we’re going to talk about idols.

Definition of Idols:  Idols are things that you put ahead of God.  In I Kings, Elijah and the prophets of Baal were doing a contest of which god could send fire, and Elijah’s God did, which is another way to prove that God is real.  Read I Kings 18:17-40.

The people were worshiping these idols. They were bowing down to them. They were sometimes carved pieces of wood, or stones, and the people worshiped these rocks and logs.  They put these rocks and logs ahead of God.

Idols today:  Idols today are like TV or the theaters, money, MP3 players, video games.  Stuff like that are sometimes idols to us.  It’s nice to have them, but if you put them ahead of God—well, they’re idols.

In the world today, money is a very bad idol if it’s used for the wrong purposes.  In the New Testament, Jesus saw that there were people making money and being selfish and greedy.  Read John 2:13-17.  They were worshiping their money instead of God.

Idols aren’t good: People in Bible times—people like the prophets of Baal—worshiped idols like Baal, and that’s not good!  Any time you put something ahead of God, it’s an idol, and that’s not good.

Conclusion:

Why do people worship idols?  Because they think these things (money, TV, toys, stuff) are more important.  But it isn’t!

We want people to worship God and be saved.  Elijah wanted the people to worship God and be saved.

If you’re here tonight, and you need help to quit worshiping idols, come and repent of your sins!  Get rid of those idols and live your life better!  There is no better time than right now, so come as we stand and sing.